Advocates push Sen. Grassley for renewed funding of MIECHV Programs

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:25 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) Home nursing advocates gathered Tuesday afternoon in Bettendorf to ask that resources be extended for a program that helps at-risk families.

Funding for Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting or MIECHV programs is set to expire at the end of September.

The programs support mothers with home visits from nurses who help them navigate everything from their own mental health to child development milestones.

A primary goal of MIECHV is to improve the health of families who may face financial or societal barriers that may make parenting harder.

Kamari Sorensen has been a stay-at-home mom for about a year. She said her visiting nurse answers questions about motherhood that you just can’t look up on the internet.

“I would be going crazy because I’m only ever with my children,” Sorensen said. “Being able to see Alicia, I’m able to voice my opinions and talk to somebody on my level without feeling judged by it.”

Sorensen’s husband Kyle said the program has given him peace of mind since he works a third-shift job.

“It was a weight off my shoulders knowing that there was someone there to assist my wife in making sure my kids were taken care of in some sense,” Sorensen said.

MIECHV received $400 million in federal funding annually leading up to 2022.. According to members of the roundtable, only about 5% of eligible families are accepted into programs due to low funding.

Advocates asked Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa to renew funding for the program over five years with yearly increases eventually resulting in $1.4 billion in annual funding by 2027.

Grassley does support a funding increase for the program, but he said the main barrier is in finding a source for the funds.

“If we didn’t have this program and help upfront to get these new mothers and their childs up to a good start it’s going to cost further down the line,” Grassley said.

Depending on the individual program, some of the home visits start during pregnancy and go all the way until a child reaches kindergarten.

One visiting nurse, and assistant manager for the program at Sieda Community Action, said she’s seen the program work firsthand.

“I’ve had families that have been unwilling to seek mental health treatment,” Angie Mach said. “Through that constant reassurance and affirmation through home visiting, they finally sought out that help.”

The program was created in 2010 under the Affordable Care Act and after a few months lapse in funding, it was renewed in 2017.

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